Accomplished Silicon Valley venture capitalists will work with Armenian entrepreneurs

Jemma Israyelyan:

Accomplished Silicon Valley venture capitalists will work with Armenian entrepreneurs

PanARMENIAN.Net - With the IT sector developing fast in Armenia, small and medium enterprises need more and more global exposure and guidance by accomplished business leaders. According to Jemma Israyelyan, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) Foundation, CEED Global Club is a great platform that brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to share experiences, explore new markets, and meet potential partners and investors globally. PanARMENIAN.Net talked to Israyelyan about CEED, its activities, target audience and much more.
Ms. Israyelyan, tell us about CEED. How have entrepreneurs benefited from your programs so far?
Founded in 2012, CEED Armenia aims to drive economic growth by developing, connecting and mentoring entrepreneurs to strengthen their businesses so they can create jobs and in turn accelerate economic prosperity. CEED Armenia is part of an international network with presence in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the U.S. CEED centers were founded by the Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF), an investment management group that works with small and medium enterprises in emerging markets.

Over the course of its operations, CEED Armenia has implemented a range of programs to help entrepreneurs and their executive teams grow and to support entrepreneurship in the broader society. CEED’s Top Class program, for example, has been empowering entrepreneurs through trainings led by accomplished business leaders from Armenia, U.S., Russia and other parts of the world, mentorship by experienced entrepreneurs, and networking events in Armenia, Israel, Jordan, Poland, Croatia, Morocco and other countries. CEED has also created opportunities for its program participants to learn from a co-founder of Skype, an early investor in Twitter, a co-founder of and many other prominent business leaders.

Where does the idea to organize the Perfect Pitch to Investors Workshop come from? How were you able to engage such experienced Silicon Valley investors?
We have been fortunate to have Roger Strauch, Co-founder and Chairman of the Roda Group, a seed stage venture capital group based in Berkeley, California, as a speaker and mentor in our programs for several years. Due to the fact that Roger is both an experienced venture capitalist and an accomplished business executive, he understands both perspectives and has provided our entrepreneurs with valuable advice, the positive impact of which they have shared with us. In one of our conversations with Roger, it became clear that we both considered effective pitching to be a critical factor that could instigate further growth of Armenian startups. We wanted to create an opportunity for our entrepreneurs to learn from the best and were fortunate that Ron Weissman, an extremely competent and well-regarded Silicon Valley investor, was willing to join our efforts. Ron Weissman worked extensively with Steve Jobs and has served on the board of directors of more than 25 companies. We are honored to partner with Deem Communications and the Central Bank for this initiative. I'm glad we have an opportunity to offer this workshop to our entrepreneurs.

How can entrepreneurs apply to participate? Who will be the target audience?
Those interested are welcome to visit our website and submit an application form. Participants will be selected based on the merit of their applications. The group will be rather small in order to create an opportunity for the participants to work with the instructors closely and to obtain customized feedback on their business initiatives from these accomplished experts.

We expect the core of the group to be entrepreneurs who have solid ideas that can be discussed with potential investors. This means that the participants will have made the initial steps in validating their business ideas, talking to potential customers, and thinking about their business model. However, entrepreneurs at an earlier stage can also greatly benefit from this workshop as it will include sessions dedicated to these and other business topics to help entrepreneurs develop their initiatives more effectively.

What should the participants expect to learn?
In addition to discussing the above mentioned business concepts, the participants will learn about the way venture capitalists think and the way they evaluate entrepreneurs’ pitches. The metrics used by venture capitalists will be discussed. The participants will work on developing a 20-minute investor presentation and receive feedback from the instructors and the group. They will also learn to develop an elevator pitch, a short summary which communicates the essence of their business idea and captures the listener’s attention. Those interested in further program details are welcome to view the agenda on the program webpage.

How can our entrepreneurs reach out to potential investors outside of Armenia? Are you planning any programs that will facilitate this process?
Having worked with entrepreneurs for almost a decade, CEED centers globally have developed a range of programs to help entrepreneurs at every step of their entrepreneurial journey. One of our recent offerings, CEED Global Club, brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to share experiences, explore new markets, and meet potential partners and investors globally. Just a week ago, CEED Global Club members that represented different countries, including Armenia, visited London where they met with experienced investors and business executives and discussed opportunities for collaboration. A similar trip to New York was organized this summer. Our annual global conferences also provide an opportunity to meet investors at the designated “investor corners”. In offering the Perfect Pitch to Investors Workshop, our goal is to help entrepreneurs prepare for these conversations and fully leverage the opportunities to meet with investors.